Any drama of scoreboard-watching dissipated when the Reds fell behind 11-0 by the third inning.
Cincinnati, which outhit the Cardinals 14-13, was coming off a 62-100 season. The franchise turned around De La Cruz and fellow rookies Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Spencer Steer and Matt McLain. Rookie Noelvi Marte his first four-hit game for the Reds.
Connor Phillips (1-1) lasted just 12 pitches — all balls. After his walks to Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt and Lars Nootbar, Jordan Walker lined a two-run double on an 0-2 pitch from Fernando Cruz. Rookie Iván Herrera hit a two-run double and scored on rookie Luken Baker’s double for a 5-0 lead.
Nootbar hit a three-run homer in the second off Cruz, and rookie José Fermín’s two-run double agaist Buck Farmer boosted the lead to 10-0. Paul Goldschmidt drove in a run in the third with his second double.
Drew VerHagen (5-1) pitched one inning in relief for the win for the Cardinals (70-91), who are trying to avoid losing 92 games for the first time since 1990. They will finish last for the first time since 1990.